Germany bans smartwatches targeted towards kids over privacy concerns

Privacy has become a very real concern in today’s modern age of interconnected gadgets, which had led German regulators to ban the sale of smartwatches that are aimed at kids. Companies like VTech have started creating smartwatches that are designed to allow parents to track their children, but German regulators say they’re little better than spying devices for the companies that create them.

The Federal Network Agency regulator in Germany even went so far as to recommend that any parents who have a smartwatch device for their child should destroy it because of the privacy risk it creates.

“Poorly secured smart devices often allow for privacy invasion. That is really concerning when it comes to kids’ GPS tracking watches – the very watches that are supposed to help keep them safe. There is a shocking lack of regulation of the ‘internet of things’, which allows lax manufacturers to sell us dangerously insecure smart products. Using privacy regulation to ban such devices is a game-changer, stopping these manufacturers playing fast and loose with our kids’ security.”

Because some smartwatches let the parents listen to the child’s environment while unnoticed, they’re being classified as an unauthorized transmitting system. The concern is that hackers could theoretically hijack the unsecured watch in order to listen in on the child or even spoof the watches’ GPS to make the child untrackable.